The battle between Sony and Amazon for an edge in the digital books market just got a little more interesting: Five weeks after Amazon unveiled its Kindle 2 e-book reader, Sony is set to announce today a deal with Google that will make a half million public domain books available on its Reader e-book device. The books, scanned as part of Google's five-year-old book digitization program, were all published before 1923 and include such classics as Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, and Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
The new deal vaults Sony past Amazon in the race to provide the most e-books to users of either the Kindle or the Reader. Amazon currently has 250,000 books in its Kindle library.
Sony Reader users will be able to download the books for free from Sony's online eBook store. "Really our vision is: any book, anywhere, any time and on any device," Google spokesperson Jennie Johnson recently told the Associated Press. "We want to partner with anybody who shares our vision of making them more accessible."
Last month Google announced that it had made available to users of advanced mobile phones an additional five hundred thousand titles from its digital library. The Google Book Search Web application offers 1.5 million books to U.S. readers using smartphones such as the iPhone or Google’s own device, the G1.